Manufacturers need to be careful in the New Year to start complying with new laws in New York and California expanding consumers’ right to repair certain products. California joined the right-to-repair movement with the passing of its Right to Repair Act, effective July 1, 2024.

The law will require electronic or appliance product manufacturers to provide documentation and functional parts and tools to product owners and service and repair facilities/dealers, on fair and reasonable terms, to facilitate the diagnosis, maintenance, or repair of a product. These requirements last for at least three years for products priced between $50 and $99.99 and for at least seven years after the product was last manufactured for products priced at $100 or more, regardless of any warranty policies.

Only products sold on or after July 1, 2021 are covered. Product exclusions include:

  • Equipment or machinery used in the agricultural, construction, utility, industrial, mining, outdoor power, forestry, and lawn and garden industries
  • Video game consoles
  • Alarm systems (e.g., fire alarms)

Notably, the law shields manufacturers and authorized repair providers from liability for any damage or injury caused to any electronic or appliance product, person, or property that occurs as a result of repair, diagnosis, maintenance, or modification performed by a service dealer or owner. Manufacturers are also exempted from providing any service parts if they are no longer provided by the manufacturer or made available to an authorized repair provider. Intellectual property and a product’s source code are also exempted.

California’s law follows New York’s version, the Digital Fair Repair Act, now in effect. The act applies broadly to “digital electronic equipment” that depends on digital electronics embedded or attached to the product, including products such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Only devices first sold in New York on or after July 1, 2023 will be subject to the act. Similar to the California law, the act requires manufacturers to provide the same diagnostic tools, repair manuals, and parts to the public that they provide to their own repair technicians, on fair and reasonable terms.

Exempted products include motor vehicles, home appliances, farm equipment, and medical devices. New York also shields manufacturers from liability for damages and injuries related to repairs made by consumers or independent repair providers.

Violators should expect penalties to accrue quickly. California allows regulators to bring an action for civil liability from $1,000 per day for the first violation and up to $5,000 per day for the third and subsequent violations. New York imposes a $500 civil penalty for each violation.

The Federal Trade Commission also monitors company repair policies through the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. Indeed, in 2022 the FTC announced three settlements for companies that told consumers their warranties would be void if they use third-party parts or services.

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